The best marker to see the change of seasons is the weather outside. The once toasty air of summer metamorphoses into the cool breeze of autumn. That will eventually turn into the frozen air of winter, than the warm comfort of a spring breeze.
However, the season has yet to changed to autumn. Even as it has gotten cooler, the season of autumn truly did not begin on September 23, but yesterday, with the MLB Playoffs kicking off with the American League Wild Card match.
On that day, and for the next several weeks, an amusing game becomes a pastime of dreams and memories. These boys of summer, who have played baseball since their childhood, now will have a chance to play the game at its most meaningful and largest of stages.
The players on the field today, grew up watching their heroes run around the beautiful, dirt covered diamond as they themselves chased to catch the dreams they had as little children. It is a connecting dream, shared by generations. It is present in the mind of all these players around the country. The season begins when these men become once again boys with that dream and the goal to catch the it.
However, those embarking on the mission to catch that fond dream also runs the risk of it becoming a nightmare. One that stays in their heart forever, and is not forgotten. And unlike the nightmares of childhood, looking under the bed will not make it go away. Nor will turning on the lights or tucking under the covers. It is a nightmare that will stay with these players until the dream is caught. And if the dream is never caught, the nightmare is what takes the place of the dream. The closer you are to the dream, the more damaging it will be if you are unable to catch it.
It begins with ten teams. Each team has travelled a different and unique journey from the first flowers of March to the cool of October. Some began the season as overwhelming favorites and played out their role to a tee. Others began the season with the expectation of failure and showed the world that games are not decided on paper, but on the field.
In Toronto, the Blue Jays have smothered opponents with their power at the plate and speed on the basepath. Anchored by Josh Donaldson, who in his first year with the team has made himself the favorite for the American League MVP, the Blue Jays are back in the postseason for the first time since 1993. Out west, the Los Angeles Dodgers are anchored by the most dominant pitching combo in the league. With aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, the Dodgers hope to forget the memory of recent postseason collapses.
In the national league, the best team in baseball could be the longtime cellar dwellers Pittsburgh Pirates or Chicago Cubs. The two teams mirror each other eerily. The teams put immeasurable value in playing at home. The Pirates is home to one of the game’s best players in Andrew McCutchen, while the Cubs look to a group of young players built up through their organization with the dream to end a century long championship drought for the franchise.
Maybe the best time in baseball will be one of the teams from New York, that share nothing in common besides their state’s name. On one side of the borough, the 27-time world champion Yankees are the standard for professional sport franchises. A team of veterans will look to continue a century long domination of the sport.
Taking the 7-Train to Queens, the usually ill-fated Metropolitans will be playing in the postseason for the first time since 2006. The team is led by a rotation of pitchers who have turned the city upside down, as the Mets have proven to be the better team this season, not the Yankees.
Away from the big city, there is also a likely chance that one of the Missouri teams will be hosting the World Series trophy in November. The Kansas City Royals had their Cinderella season cut short by one game a year ago and now look to return to that moment. While in a city where baseball is just as much a part of the city as its arches, the St. Louis Cardinals hope to redeem themselves from World Series disappointment from 2013. Maybe the Texas teams?
Both the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros were seen as afterthoughts at the beginning of the season. Now, with Houston led by a shortstop that looks like the second Alex Rodriguez and Texas led by a postseason seasoned roster, the two teams look to bring the first championship to their franchises.
Over the next month, the October winds will howl in the air like a crying wolf. The green leaves in the tree will die. And the dreams of nine teams on a dusty diamond will be broken and left scattered across their hearts. However, for that one team that manages to win the final game of the year, a lifetime of memories and dreams will come true under the utumn night.